Sunday, April 19, 2009

If I were curator

I think that time lines should be more fully integrated into the exhibition and that the presentation of past, present and future of each site should not be so starkly separated. Therefore, a good start would be placing the time lines either on top or below our streetscapes in order to make visual connections between events on the time line/buildings mentioned on the time line and elements on the streetscape (I think the streetscapes in one form or another, are a strong element to retain). This way, making visual connections to and from the streetscape would be much easier than in the previous scheme. In the previous incarnation of the exhibition, the timelines were placed on the columns (kiosks), which were too divorced from the actual streetscapes, and better used as keys to maps (as discussed by the jury).

There was discussion of coordinating the format of the timelines (the look as well as the content. I think each timeline should be specific. Each timeline will be illustrated by the the streetscape element to which it refers, but could also have a historical image placed in the middle of the “link” as well (similar to the image on Andrews blog but in a different format: see :

I am in agreement with one of the jurors who said that we have a lot of good material, but that it has to be spread out among the presentation of the different sites. The same methods can not be used for the presentation of each of the sites.

For the presentation of Atlantic Yards and BAM Cultural District, whose presentation can not be as orthogonally linear as Fulton Mall, I propose focusing on the voids or the difference of those particular sites for their presentation, rather than trying to make them something they are not. Like Mary Ellen’s original idea for Atlantic Yards, with her “Look Up” campaign, the wall space for Atlantic Yards could focus on both the present and the future at the same time by focusing on the very tops of buildings but mostly on the open sky/open space at the sight—therefore, commenting on current conditions (void), future conditions (void, if the depression continues) and air rights/sky is the limit development possibilities. This could easily be combined with the blue wall idea.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fulton Mall Timeline

(some dates have images referenced in post below)

1883- Brooklyn Bridge opens.

1890- The Offerman Building on Fulton is built in latest Romanesque Revival Style and occupies the entire block between Bridge and Duffield Streets.

1892- The Jay Street Firehouse is built in the Romanesque Style. (see image)
Surface trolleys are replaced by electrified trolleys; many pedestrians are injured since the electrified cars are quieter than the older models.

1898- El tracks are connected to tracks of the Brooklyn Bridge-this allows for quicker commuting times, and renders cross river Ferry commuting obsolete. (see image)

1899- Loeser’s builds a new store on Fulton Street, taking up an entire square block at 484 Fulton Street between Elm and Bond Street. In total, Loeser’s will undergo 12 enlargements and its showrooms will eventually occupy 5 floors and 2 city blocks. Later this will be the 1978 site of McRory’s.

1908- Subway from Bowling Green, Manhattan to Joralemon Street is completed.

1911- Martin’s on Fulton Street is established (between Bridge and Duffield Streets) in the Offerman Building.

1914- Fulton Street is widened

1920- 8 movie houses exist on Fulton Street between Boerum and Flatbush avenue

1931- New York Telephone Company opens its Long Island headquarters at 101 Willoughby Street in a newly constructed Art Deco building.

1937- 3 new buildings are mentioned as under construction in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Fulton Street:
Russek’s on the Northwest corner of Fulton and Bridge Streets, Fulton Savings Bank at no. 375 and Woolworth’s on Gallatin Place.

1940- On May 31st, the last elevated train runs along the El tracks. The structure takes only a few weeks to disassemble.

1940- With the razing of the El tracks, a number of businesses make improvements to their facades over the next few years. Block and Hesse prepared 5 alternate designs for a new facade to be grafted onto the existing Schraffts restaurant (a chain store) at 386 Fulton Street.

1941- At 487 Fulton Street, William Wise & Sons, a jewelry business construct themselves a new and modern building.

1942- Wallachs’ was constructed at 16 Court Street by the architect Morris Ketchum, Jr (this was one of a series of shops designed by Ketchum for this chain).
1954- Design began on Civic Center in downtown Brooklyn. Design was meant to recall the “Rue de la Paix” in Paris, according to the Fulton Mall business directory, published by The Fulton Mall Improvement Association. This was a joint effort of Borough President John Cashmore, Mayor Robert Wagner, and private savings banks and businesses.
1960- The Civic Center is complete. Fulton, Adams and Tillary Streets are cleared and widened. On the west side of the street, 3 high rise apartment buildings are erected (Cadman Plaza), in addition to the Supreme Court, Domestic Relations, and a 14 story office building at the intersection of Fulton, Willoughby and Adams Street.
1962- The Brooklyn Paramount Theater (4,400 seats) closes and is taken over by Long Island University (LIU) at the southeast corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenue.

1966- The Brooklyn Fox Theater closes and was eventually torn down in 1970-71.

1967- Under the direction of Richard Rosan, the Downtown Brooklyn Development Association (DBDA) is formed.

According to Stern, the DBDA “received funding from city, state and federal government by way of urban renewal” and was actually “formed to take advantage of cities funds”.
It focused on upscaling existing retail shopping Streets and making area more attractive for eventual office construction. Merchants and institution were led by Dennis Durden, VP for Urban Affairs of Federated Dept Stores (A&S).

According to the Fulton Mall business directory, once the DBDA was formed, it planned only for retail areas in the proposed Fulton Mall area and in areas adjacent to it.
1968- Major parking lot construction effort in the area: the City builds a municipal parking lot on Livingston and Bond and A&S builds a lot above the Hoyt Street Annex.
--Inspired by Ghiradelli Square and the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, Stephen and George Klein, owners of Barton’s candy company (which employed 700 workers east of the Fulton Street shopping district) wanted to expand manufacturing as well as 600,000 square feet of office and shopping space. They submitted a proposal by Katz, Waismal, Weber & Strauss for an office tower with raised plaza and a stepped podium. This was never constructed but spurred a more serious rethinking of Fulton Mall.

1969- Operation Breadbasket, lead by Rev. Jesse Jackson demanded information on minority hiring from Fulton Street storeowners and held demonstrations in front of stores to emphasize his demands. The groups that protested with Operation Breadbasket were Black Economic Survival, Fight Back, South Brooklyn Construction Workers, Free at Last.

1970- Kings Plaza shopping mall was constructed at Mill Basin. It threatened Fulton Street’s traditional appeal to the boroughs middle class, mall is closer to their home. Though, according to Stern “’brownstoners’ tended tot take buying power to Manhattan” (World Trade Center Plaza, 34th Street, 5th avenue) or, perhaps to the suburbs (Staten Island, Long Island).

Kings Plaza was the first true shopping mall in Brooklyn. Flatbush avenue was widened, from Utica Avenue to Avenue V, to accommodate the increased traffic flow.

Kings Plaza shopping mall is located in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn, which previously known as being a very white district. However, this changed in the 1970’s, when African Americans (Haitians and other Caribbean’s in particular) began moving in the Northern areas of the Flatlands, closest to Flatbush avenue. The Southern section of the Flatlands still remained mostly Irish, Italian and Jewish (in Begen Beach, Old and New Mill Basin and Marine Park) (Brooklyn, The Way It Was, Brian Merlis).

1971- Mayor’s Office of Downtown Brooklyn Development (ODBD) is established, thus paving the way to make Fulton Mall a reality
1976- Application made to Federal government for an Urban Mass Transportation Administration Capital Improvement Grant which would fund 80% of proposed Fulton Mall project

1976- RKO Albee Theater at 1 DeKalb ave at Albee Square demolished to make room for the Albee square mall.
1977- request approved
Fulton Street Redevelopment in detail:
Redevelopment plan for Fulton Street shopping district announced during Mayor Lindsay’s reelection campaign (Mayor of New York City from 1966-1973). This was only one small part of Lindsay’s reelection campaign; his plan actually called for the revitalization of the whole of downtown Brooklyn. The original plan varied vastly from the realized plan. The original plan called for a revitalization of all of downtown Brooklyn: 5,000 units of housing and it envisioned, within 25 years, 25,000 new office jobs and a like number of new students for the area. Lindsay’s “vision of renewal shrunk to the creation of only 6,000 construction jobs and 12,000 permanent jobs.”

Additionally, Lindsay claimed he would bring theaters, shops, restaurants and pedestrian malls, thousands of square feet of industrial space and a three block-long ''galleria'' on 45 acres, to the area. What ended up being realized is what we know now of Fulton Street Pedestrian Mall:
A combination of new design criteria for storefront design, bus shelters, signs, canopies, benches and lights, and a modified pedestrian mall along Fulton Street’s 17 shopping blocks bounded by Boerum Place, Myrtle avenue, Ashland Place, Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, permitting limited traffic, particularly buses.

This plan took 15 years to realize and was a 500 million dollar development plan. According to a NYTimes article (MALL STANDS ALONE IN BROOKLYN 'RENAISSANCE', 4/9/82). Ground floor prices increased from $50 to $60 from $20 or less. Employees had hoped for upscale shoppers ''We were supposed to get lots of Bloomingdale's customers,'' another employee said. ''All we got was their shoplifters.''
1977- Formed Fulton Mall Improvement Association (local shopkeepers and banking institutions)—an early BID, established by the State Legislature - seven-day-a-week Street cleaning by a crew of five equipped with a mechanical sweeper and all-night security by two guards, one of them armed, who patrol by car. (NY Times MERCHANTS TAXING THEMSELVES TO OFFER MORE SERVICES IN SPECIAL DISTRICTS, October 11, 1983)
Oct 25, 1978- Phase I of construction begins
The first phase of the Fulton Street Mall redevelopment, from Albee Square to Gallatin Place, cost about $25 million. The second phase, which began in August and was
completed in 1984, cost $15 million.

1979- Fulton Mall business stats upon opening after Phase I of redevelopment very closely resembles business model today of chain store with multiple locations within the pedestrian mall (within a few blocks of each other):
2 Chemical Banks
2 Goodwin’s
2 Pathmark Drug Stores
3 Coral Franks
5 Different Wig Stores (1 “Collection Wigs”, 1 “Wig Discount Center”, 2 “Wigs”, 1 “Bags and Wigs”)
2 Benhill Shops
4 Parking Lots
3 Thom McAn’s

Department Stores:
A+S (see images)
Albee Square Mall (to open in 1980) (see images)
Goodwin’s (2)
The New Lynn’s
JW Mays
McCrory’s (old site of Loeser’s)

Fall of 1980- Albee Square Mall opens-Stores will occupy 155,000 sq ft of net leasable
space. As of July 10, leases have been signed on 70% of total. Mall is to open in fall
of 1980. Developer is Rentar Development Co. Architect is Abbott Harle of Gruen
Associates. (see images)

1990- Forest City purchases Albee Square Mall. Plans to bring ''upscale retail''
operators into it. ''We have more than 80 tenants,'' said Arthur Ratner, developer of the Albee Mall, ''almost half of them businesses that had never been located in New
York before. We are getting people who never shopped Fulton Street as well as people
who drifted away and are now coming back.


New York 1960, Stern, Mellis and Fishman


NEW YORK TIMES, Merchants Taxing Themselves to Offer More Services in Special Districts, October 11, 1983, By Sam Roberts.

NEW YORK TIMES, July 18, 1979, Section 2; Page 8, Column 1, BY ALAN S OSER

NEW YORK TIMES, January 14, 1990, PERSPECTIVES- Downtown Brooklyn; Creating a Critical Mass at Metrotech

NEW YORK TIMES, January 14, 1990, Mass at Metrotech, By ALAN S. OSER

Fulton Mall business directory - with history, walking tour, and maps of downtown Brooklyn. Fulton Mall Improvement Association. ; Brooklyn, N.Y. : Prisma Graphics : Fulton Mall Improvement Association, 1979.

Fulton Mall Photos

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Old Elevated Train Maps + One Subway Map and El Research

1956 Hagstrom Subway Map

1911, Map of the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens: Shows elevated trains and running through Brooklyn and Queens

1888 Elevated Train Map of Brooklyn and Queens: Shows elevated trains running through Brooklyn and Queens (published by E.F.Linton Real Estate Co in conjunction with CW Hobbs Guide and Map Publishing Company) to show potential home buyers how fast a commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan and vise versa was. Official NYC Transit maps weren't issued until the 1920's and 30's.

Train timeline

The opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883 saw the construction of many independent transportation (elevated and ground level) lines throughout Brooklyn.

The southbound train rider had two options after 1885. Once they reached the Brooklyn Bridge, they could take a cable car down from Park Row to Sands Street. They then had the option of two rival elevated train companies-The Broooklyn Elevajavascript:void(0)ted Railroad or The Kings County Elevated Rail Road (1885-1941). The former went through downtown Brooklyn from Washington and York streets and terminated at Gates Avenue and Broadway. It was later extended to the Manhattan Crossing station at east New York. In September 1885, it was extended east to Alabama Ave and in November 1885 extended west to Fulton Ferry.

Its rival company, the Kings County Elevated Rail Road, ran a line along Fulton street to Nostrand avenue. By 1891 it was extended to Brownsville and to East New York in 1893. The entire route was as follows: The Fulton Street Line ran from Park Row to Sands Street, then a short private right of way to Fulton Street near Tillary Street. Trains ran on Fulton Street to East New York, then turned south on Van Sinderen Ave, then east again on Pitkin Ave (also known at that time as Eastern Parkway), then north on Euclid Ave, then east on Liberty Ave to Grant Avenue in the City Line section of Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn El’s were the predecessor’s of today’s train lines—they were the trains that eventually went underground and were electrified. When the Fulton Street Line was torn down in 1941, many buildings that were in the shadows of the elevated train tracks became visible for the first time in 60 years. This stimulated proposals for physical improvements—one of many calls for the improvement of Fulton street (the site of the future Fulton Street Mall) over the years.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Research plan

My research will take the format of a timeline (bubblechart?), with many offshoots that will allow for specific histories. The innermost branches of timeline will link the larger forces of change in the area that may have contributed to conditions of use in the Fulton Mall area of the situation of vacancies and tenancy arrangements in the mall.

I will look at the point at which Fulton Mall was formalized and "planned into" a pedestrian mall and the effects of Urban Renewal. Another point I may research is the construction of the Flatbush avenue El. Offshoots and specific points of research from this area might be the painted advertisements on the upper floors of commercial buildings painted at El height. These more specific time line events are items Vrushti will research.